Althoff wrestles way to top

Michelle Stadel

Michelle Stadel

For sophomore Nathan Althoff wrestling for SDSU is a family tradition.

“I was a three-time state champion in South Dakota for Watertown and I broke a lot of school records there,” he said. “My brother wrestled for SDSU so that kind of pushed me into coming here to wrestle.”

During his high school career, Althoff won titles in the 135-pound weight class as a sophomore, 152-pound as a junior and 160-pound as a senior. His success has carried over into college.

Recruited to wrestle at 165-pound, Althoff redshirted his freshman year.

“(Coach) Liles had a really good 165-pound wrestler in Ty Bryant, a three-time All-American,” Althoff said. “He was a senior so I took my redshirt year and I was able to take his spot by wrestling off a couple kids for it.”

At 165-pounds, Althoff finished the 2003-2004 season with a 25-10 record. He also finished the season by earning the title of All-American. To earn this designation a wrestler must finish in the top four at the regional competition in order to advance to nationals where the top eight are classified as All-Americans. Althoff finished fifth in nationals.

“It was my goal last year to be an All-American,” Althoff said. “My goal for this year is to improve and make it to nationals in two years.”

Constant upheaval has been the story of the wrestling program’s placement in NCAA competitions. Last year the North Central Conference had to compete in the NCAA North Regional in order to qualify for the NCAA Division II Wrestling Championship instead of just going through the conference like in previous years.

This year the wrestling program has been granted reclassification into Division I. Starting in 2007, SDSU wrestlers will be able to qualify for the NCAA Division I Championships.

The changes in classification present a new level of competition for the program.

“Being the only returning All-American or qualifier, I’m trying to help the younger guys learn what it takes to compete at this level,” Althoff said.

Pressure from wrestling isn’t the only obstacle for the mechanical engineering major. Juggling practices and course loads can get tricky.

“It makes school hard, because you lose a lot of time. It seems like a lot of professor’s office hours are during practice times,” Althoff said. “But as far as that goes, you get to meet a lot of cool people and you have a sort of family to go to every day.”

Aside from the extra pressure of sports and school Althoff has had a good start to the season. At home on Nov. 6 for the Warren Williamson/Daktronics Open, he won the 174-pound championship.

“I expect to do well and if I don’t I won’t be happy with my performance,” Althoff said. “You get used to doing well and you want to continue that.”

At the Harold Nichols Open on Nov. 13, Althoff finished with the team’s best record of the day, 4-2. On Nov. 20, Althoff finished second with a 4-1 record at the Kaufman-Brand Open.

“I don’t know what to expect out of the next tournament. I just go out there and wrestle hard every time that is all you can do,” he said.

The team’s next meet is Dec. 5 in Cedar Falls, Iowa. On Dec. 9, the team hosts North Dakota’s University of Mary at home in Frost Arena.

#1.885548:1267910508.jpg:WRESTLING ( COACH AND LEV.jpg:Coach Jason Liles demonstrates a move on Levi Krehmeyer during practice.:Mike Carlson